This week, I’m mixing it up a bit and reviewing 2 books. Random House/Multonomah & Random House/Waterbrook sent me two review copies, both about vampires. I’m intrigued that Christian fiction is getting on the vampire bandwagon. It’s about time, if you ask me, since the original vampire novel had strong Christian themes (I’m talking about Dracula, of course, which I reviewed here).
And, as usual, Christian publishing is about three years behind schedule. An editor at a Christian publishing house (which will go unnamed here), once told me that dirty little secret, and ever since, I’ve noticed that with all major publishing trends in the mainstream, it takes about three years for Christian Fiction to catch up. Not good enough, folks. We should be the trend setters…not the other way around.
One of these books is fiction and one is nonfiction. As you can probably expect, the fiction one isn’t the strongest of the two. When it comes to Christian publishing, the nonfiction far surpasses the fiction, and the same is true here.
I actually really liked Touched by a Vampire and highly suggest it for anyone who has read the Twilight saga or is watching the movie. There are a lot of spoilers for the last two books, though. So, if you haven’t read all of them yet, and are planning to, I’d suggest finishing the books first.
Beth Felker Jones has unpacked several main themes in the series and examined them from a Christian perspective. And it’s very well thought out and backed up with scripture. But I think my favorite aspect is that she recognizes the role that Stephanie Myers’ Mormonism played in crafting the series, and she calls out some of the ways that it differs from Christ centered thinking.
The downside of the book is that Jones doesn’t find a lot of redemptive material in the series, which leaves her sounding completely against the books, which I think is unfair. She gives them the occasional brownie point, but for the most part, it’s a long dissection of all the ways the stories fail. I’d like to see a little more redemptive work here, on how the book can point people to Jesus, as I believe all fiction that touches on any truth can do. These books are resounding with people for a reason, and when there are so many needs being met by these books, it means there are connections to Jesus.
There are study questions in the back, and the chapters are short and manageable. I’d suggest reading this book with your teenage daughter, who is obsessed with the series like many other girls her age. The strong focus of the book is on how the series portrays love, and it’s an especially important topic for young women learning how to date and what real love looks like.
To learn more about the book from the publisher’s website, click here.
Now, I’ll transition to the fiction book from Waterbrook, called Thirsty. Tracey Bateman has creatively linked two concepts of thirst, one of an alcoholic for a drink and another is the vampire and the thirst for blood. And she combines both types of people in this story, which comes out a little uneven because the tones of the stories did’t match too well. I felt like there were two books going on here, and they didn’t speak to each other as well as they were supposed to. There could be a lot to say about overcoming sin, even if it’s a seemingly overwhelming urge and part of your nature, but sadly, the book didn’t address it much. In fact, if we were to glean a message about how to overcome sin from the book, it would have more to do with white knuckling it than Christ’s help.
Nina Parker is an alcoholic, torn from her family by her addiction and forced to move in with her sister in her former hometown, once she leaves rehab. Nina’s teenage daughter joins her in the small town, just as several local murders are popping up. Shortly after her arrival in town, we meet a dark character who lives next door, who is very obviously a vampire, obsessed with Nina. So, Nina can’t stop thinking about alcohol, and he can’t stop thinking about her and her blood.
At least Myers explained the vampire lore, why they behaved the way they did, but Bateman picks and chooses her own vampire traits and doesn’t explain why her vampires are acting in certain ways. They just are. She does explain that the vampires inherit their vampirism, which is something I’d never heard of before. And it feels even more separated from the long tradition of romantic vampire fiction because of these differences.
If you want to lure in people who typically read vampire fiction with a bit more redemptive version of the story, at least do your homework and make a nod towards the tradition they respect. Even if it’s just Twilight!
But, if you’re dead set against your kids reading Twilight, this might be a better option for them, since the Vampire life isn’t glorified, and love looks a lot less destructive.
I didn’t come away from this book with any deep revelations or insight into sinful desire and the ways to defeat it. But it was a fast read, one sitting’s worth. If you’re willing to put your brain on auto pilot and rush through a small town mystery, there are worse books to choose.
I applaud Bateman for stepping up and addressing this huge trend in fiction. I just think it’s too little, too late.
If you’d like to learn more about Thirsty from the publisher’s website, click here.